My Favourite SAUL Ancestor
By Rosemary Bailey
This article was originally published in the April 1998 edition of Soul Search, the journal of The Sole Society.
Susana Saul (a SAUL by marriage) died in 1917. Although this was twenty years before my mother was born, it was recent enough for there to be stories still circulating about her.
She was a real matriarch who dominated her children with a rod of iron. I got the impression that those who did not escape through marriage remained at home and became more and more eccentric.
Susana was born in 1830 at Bilston, Staffs, the second known child of Isaac Bassford and Martha (formerly Morris). Isaac's family can be traced back to the 17th century in the Hinckley area. (Records of his ancestors spanning two hundred years and five generations arrived through the post one day from another family histofian researching the same family.)
Isaac, a master baker and some time beer retailer, moved his family to Oldbury (now in the West Midlands), where he lived with his second wife at the time of the 1841 census. Susana was described as a dressmaker in the 1851 census, a trade she passed on to one of her daughters who made the christening gown in which my two brothers, mother and uncle were christened. I was too big for it!
Susana married Thomas Saul at All Saints, West Bromwich in 1851 when she was just 20. Over the next 18 years they had a total of nine children, one of who died at just a few months, with another being paralysed. Thomas Saul's grandfather, Peter, had moved to the area from Banbury, Oxfordshire during the very last years of the 18th century. John Slaughter, our Saul's Research Co‑ordinator, hopes that we will eventually be able to trace the ancestors back to Horley, the next parish to Banbury, where there were a lot of SAULs in the 17th and 18th centuries.
I think Susana had a relatively comfortable life compared with many of those who lived in the grinding poverty of the 19th century Black Country. Thomas, like his father, was an engineer, perhaps working on the nearby canals and railways. At other times, he is described as a publican at the Engine Tavern in Bath Row, and an engine driver.
He died about 1898. Susana lived to be 87, finally dying in the great flu epidemic after the first war.
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